Written with Canberra's unique climate in mind the Grow your own planner guides you through designing, creating and maintaining your edible garden. With simple DIY information and monthly tasks it...
Choosing an apple tree
As the night time temperatures plummet we stop fussing over the vegetable patch and attentions turn to fruit trees & berries. Canberra is one of the best climates for stone fruit as well as apples, pears and many others so if you have dreamt of your very own mini (or maxi) orchard we are here to help.
There are more varieties of apple available than any other type of fruit tree so choosing which variety to bring home can be tricky. Before you head out to your local nursery consider these things…
What variety do you pick up at the markets? Are you a Fuji or a Gala fan? You may not be able to pick up the exact same variety but most growers describe their varieties using comparisons to the commonly available types. Some are super sweet, some more crispy and tart. Choose your fav.
How much space do you have? If you have acres and don’t mind pruning go for a full size variety (allow min 3-5m2) but for those short on space there are dwarf varieties and columnar varieties which grow tall and thin and can take up as little as ½ m. Perfect for large pots.
Good to know. Most apples need a friend to produce fruit so unless your neighbour provides you’re going to need two. If you have room you can have more than one apple tree but if space is a premium you might want to look at a double graft (Two varieties on one stem) or try planting two trees in the one hole. Crude but effective. Of course if you are happy to train them Apples make perfect espallier specimens and you can get early, mid & late fruiting varieties so you could be eating apples for 6 months of the year if you plan well.
At the nursery. Don’t worry too much about bringing home the tallest tree – a good nursery will prune it back hard to encourage strong Spring growth. Look for a straight trunk and a good balanced root system. In Canberra try to get out early on the June long weekend for your pick of a huge range.
Problems. Apples are one of the few fruit trees I question the worth of with my clients. If you don’t like the thought of less than perfect fruit give this tree a miss. You will almost certainly get codling moth which is a grub that nestles into the fruit and unless you like spraying poisons into the air every few weeks it is very hard to eradicate. But if you have a relaxed happy go lucky attitude to pests then cut your apples open before you chomp and be grateful for the extra protein. If you are interested in more organic ways to keep the grubs to a minimum keep an eye out for our articles on pest control.
If I had a huge backyard – Red delicious for me, Granny smith for crumbles and Pink lady for mum
In my courtyard – Maybe a Flamenco & Waltz columnar tree framing the back of the garage in pots.
For more information – http://www.flemings.com.au/fruit_listing.asp?variety=Apple – Flemings are a major wholesale supplier to our nurseries with a fantastic informative website.